The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 67.0°F | Overcast

News Briefs

Journals Urged To Disclose Scientists’ Ties


A group of prominent scientists is pressing two leading editors of scientific journals to require authors to disclose financial ties to products or companies that could benefit from the articles they write.

In a letter sent Thursday to the editors, the scientists cited several recent cases in which authors of articles in the journal Science and in the journals of the Nature Publishing Group failed to disclose significant conflicts of interest.

One scientist, the letter said, failed to disclose that he held the patent on a drug treatment about which he wrote favorably. Another, with ties to pharmaceutical companies, suggested in an article that the nation’s obesity problem could be solved “by better education and better drugs.”

In the letter to the editor in chief of Science, Donald Kennedy, the scientists wrote that “it is increasingly important to identify authors or quoted scientists who have management or advisory roles in companies by those affiliations and not simply by their academic appointments.”

“They are ‘academic entrepreneurs,’ not simply ‘scientists,’” the scientists wrote.

Romney Approves $15.4M For Unpaid Lawyers


Governor Mitt Romney approved Thursday $15.4 million in back payments owed to lawyers for the poor, but cautioned the attorneys against launching another protest like the one that disrupted some Suffolk County courts earlier this week.

Private lawyers who represent indigent clients in Suffolk County refused new cases Monday and part of Tuesday, following the lead of individual attorneys in other parts of the state. The protest left some defendants in jail, without lawyers to argue for lower bail, and prompted a delay in some cases.

If further disruption occurs, Romney would support “taking disciplinary steps against these attorneys,” said Shawn Feddeman, Romney’s spokeswoman. “It’s a constitutional right for indigent defendants to have this counsel.”

The Committee for Public Counsel Services, a state group responsible for providing attorneys for people who cannot afford them, has only 115 staff attorneys, so it contracts with nonprofit groups, such as Suffolk Lawyers for Justice, the group that refused cases this week, to assign private lawyers to cases. Court officials didn’t take any action against the Committee for Public Counsel Services, Suffolk Lawyers for Justice, or individual lawyers for refusing to take new cases.

Junk Mail Marketers Join Fight Against Spam E-mail


A new player has joined the effort to protect computer users from spam: It’s the folks who bring you junk mail.

The Direct Marketing Association has quietly begun working with federal law enforcement officials, regulators, and Internet service providers to develop a high-technology group dedicated to helping shut down the most egregious users of bulk e-mail, who send billions of marketing messages to computer users.

The focus of the effort will be “to identify significant spam operators who are violating existing laws, develop the cases, and refer them to the appropriate state, federal, or international prosecuting authorities,” the direct mail trade group said in a recruiting letter dated Aug. 8.